For the last ten to fifteen years it has become increasingly apparent that the over 50s age bracket requires a greater focus with regards to rising STI rates. There are a number of reasons for this including divorce and the availability of Viagra. But, what have divorce rates and Viagra have to do with an increase in STI rates? A lot!
Divorce and separation rates have increase massively over the last twenty years. Over this time, it has become more common for people who are suddenly without their life long partner, to start new relationships, whether they be long term or brief sexual encounters. Instead of taking a full STI screen before embarking on a new sexual relationship, or instead of wearing barrier contraceptives at least, people are throwing caution to the wind because they feel their age makes them impenetrable to STIs. Thorough and full STI screens are for the 15 – 24 age group. Older people don’t get chlamydia. Wrong!
Adding to the rise in the number of over 50s contracting STIs, are the increasing numbers of men in their 50s and 60s who are taking Viagra, but who otherwise would not be having as much sex. This means that more men and women of this age bracket are continuing to have sex later in life. Additionally, more women than ever are seeking treatment in this age group for Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) related symptoms like vaginal dryness, indicating their ability to have comfortable sex much longer than they would have without medical intervention. You can read more about Female Sexual Dysfunction at this helpful website.
It’s wonderful that people in this age bracket are having more sex much later in life than before, however, currently it is coming at a cost. Like the young people of today, STIs can be at the back of the mind when starting up a new relationship or enjoying a fling, but at least with young people the threat of pregnancy is alive and well. For the older generations, pregnancy is simply not a concern and with that comes a blaze attitude towards unprotected sex and the possibility of contracting STIs.
There have even been reports over the last ten years of outbreaks of STIs in nursing homes and retirement villages across the UK and Ireland, meaning people are engaging in risky sexual activity well into their 70s and 80s. This would not be possible in most cases without the help of Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs.
Medical intervention has revitalized our sexual lives and has made it possible for older people enjoy a sex life for longer. As a result, we need to be targeting the over 50s just like we target the 15 to 24s age bracket, and encourage the taking of full STI screens before every new sexual partner. This sort of screen will traditionally include chlamydia, gonorrhea, herpes, HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B and C, and other lesser-known STIs, that are equally as important to discover should infection be present. These full STI screens are quick and easy to take whether in a face to face environment at a sexual health clinic or via online testing kits and will only require a swab or a urine sample. There are even online services such as TheSTIclinic.com where they have a blood test for things like HIV from a tiny sample that you can collect at home using one of their specially designed kits.
As long as the over 50s neglect to take care of their sexual health, the spread will continue and rates will remain high. We have to adapt to the medical interventions available to us now. As much as it is welcome in perpetuating sexual enjoyment across the generations, it also complicates the problem of the spread of STIs. Targeting older people via awareness programs and via their own GPs is something we can’t neglect any longer.
We recommend this helpful video about sex in the over-50s.